The indictment names former Lynn Haven City Manager Michael Edward White, 46; Lynn Haven Community Services Director David Wayne Horton, 55; Erosion Control Specialists (ECS) owner David Mitchelle White, 38; Greenleaf Lawn Care of Bay County owner Joshua Daniel Anderson, 43; and Shannon Delores Rodriguez, 37.
The defendants are charged with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, honest services fraud, mail fraud, theft concerning programs receiving federal funds, and filing false claims to an agency of the United States.
According to the indictment, the city of Lynn Haven declared a local state of emergency on October 16, 2018, after the passing of Hurricane Michael. The city required post-disaster relief and approved a resolution waiving the formalities usually required under state law before taking action. This included incurring obligations, entering into contracts, and expending public funds.
The resolution gave emergency powers to the mayor and the City Manager for executing post-hurricane activities. Before the emergency declaration expired, the accused manager allegedly entered into emergency contracts with ECS and Greenleaf Lawn Care owners to perform services for the city related to post-hurricane assistance. The invoices they submitted for payment to the city would be sent to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for reimbursement.
The indictment accuses the two owners of submitting invoices requesting payment for services they never provided. The City Manager purportedly approved all of their invoices and directed city employees to immediately pay them. The Community Services Director is accused of falsely verifying the attendance of ECS and Greenleaf employees.
It was discovered that most of the invoices prepared for submission to FEMA for reimbursement gave no details to support the requested payments. When directed to provide supporting documentation for the funds requested, the ECS owner allegedly submitted false time sheets prepared by the 37-year-old woman.
After the declaration of an emergency expired, the director and the ECS owner allegedly sought to look for additional city projects for the two accused owners. One such project was for ECS to collect trash for the city at a cost of $300 per hour per crew, even though the city’s waste trucks could do the job at no increased cost.
“The greatest cost of public corruption is the potential widespread loss of public trust in our government. It is a dangerous virus that threatens to infect public service and public trust in it, and we are committed to stop the spread of that virus of corruption,” said Lawrence Keefe, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
The investigation into the alleged Lynn Haven corruption was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bay County Sheriff’s Office. The case is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Kunz.
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